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Matt at the Movies: Film Festival Season
Matt is back with the festival films debuting right in time for awards season. PS - don't forget the Charlotte Film Festival this week!
It’s been a while but I'm glad to be back. While the SAG-AFTRA strike is finally approaching a resolution after months with little gains, film festival season is in full effect. There is a different flavor to the ceremonies this year as stars are not permitted to promote releases of any films from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). There are exceptions to prominent smaller independent production companies like A24 and Neon Pictures amongst others who are permitted to promote as well as film during the strike.
Venice Film Festival featured a large amount of high profile screenings (and clapping don’t forget the clapping) showcased this year. Director Michael Mann debuted Ferrari, an Adam Driver-led film about Enzo Ferrari’s critical juncture with the car company in 1957. Bradley Cooper wrote, directed, and stars in the biopic of legendary conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro that will be in limited release before hitting Netflix in December.
David Fincher’s new Netflix film The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender, about a contract assassin who seems to be growing a conscience after years on the job. None held a candle to the darling of Venice and fall festivals so far as the Golden Lion jury prize went to Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things. Lanthimos teams up again with Emma Stone who plays Bella Baxter who is brought back to life and must reacclimate to her new world in Frankensteinesque fashion. Expect major Oscar buzz for the film, its director, and main stars (Stone and Mark Ruffalo).
Telluride Film Festival hit its golden jubilee this year and one particular film has ridden its wave of laurels from Cannes in May. Zone of Interest directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast / Under the Skin) was very well received again. The story of a German commandant who strives to bring up his family and their dream house next door to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. All of Us Strangers features a star studded cast including Andrew Scott, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy, and 2023 Oscar nominated actor Paul Mescal in a story about a screenwriter who returns to his childhood home to find his parents who passed away thirty years earlier. It’s a story of working through trauma and may end up with some Oscar acting nods.
At the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) American Fiction, a satire film about an author played by Jeffrey Wright who purposely writes a terrible novel about black life won the People’s Choice for 2023. Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers starring Paul Giamatti came in second and Hayao Miyazaki’s (Ponyo/Spirited Away) The Boy and the Heron came in third. A24’s raunchy Dicks: The Musical was abuzz throughout the festival and should make for some laughs at the end of September as well.
The New York Film Festival will round out the season at the end of the month to bring things to a close. One thing for certain is that this year’s slate of films looks very promising in terms of quality, critical receptions, and crowd pleasing performances. While the stars and pageantry may be absent, things are shaping up for a strong finish to 2023. Here are Matt at the Movies top five films I’m looking forward to opening in the coming months by order of release date:
The Promised Land (Oct 5). Mads Mikkelsen stars as an 18th century soldier, Ludwig Kahlen, who moves to a barren Danish land to establish a new settlement for wealth and honor. In his way is a wealthy landowner who plots violence and revenge to drive Ludwig from “his” land. The showdown will be worth the price of admission.
Killers of the Flower Moon (Oct 20). Martin Scorsese is back with the historical telling of the murders of the Osage tribe in Oklahoma during the 1920’s. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons, this film earned glowing reviews at the Cannes film festival. Apple has scratched their limited release and is set for an October 20th theatrical run.
The Killer (Nov 10). Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton in David Finchner’s Netflix release of an assassin who begins to develop a conscience after years of moral decay. Shot beautifully as all his films are a masterclass in cinematography, this noir tale will be both cold and brutal. The trailer recently dropped and looks as menacing as his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Se7en.
The Bikeriders (Dec 1). Jeff Nichols directs this tale of the rise and fall of a midwestern biker gang in the 1960’s. This story is based on Danny Lyon’s photo-book of the same name. Austin Butler leads in his first major role since his nominated portrayal of Elvis last year. Along for the ride also is Jodie Comer, Tom Hardy, and Michael Shannon.
Poor Things / The Zone of Interest (Dec 8). I cheated to combine two stories that I am most excited about for the fall season. Both films mentioned above will make for a chaotic and emotional weekend at the cinema.
Honorable Mentions: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist (Sept 4), Dicks: The Musical (Sept 29), Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla (Oct 27), All of Us Strangers (Dec 22), and Ferrari (Dec 25).
We’ll be ramping up news, reviews, and content as the big push continues into the fall. Forget the pumpkin spice lattes and Christian girl autumn couture! Get out and support your local theaters. There is great art to be consumed all around the city. If you haven’t yet made your pilgrimage to The Independent Picture House to catch some amazing indie films including their Anime Expo and Wanderers of the Lost Highways series.
Finally, the Charlotte Film Festival starts this week and tickets are available for purchase.
See you next time at Matt at the Movies!
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